Boston's 2-1 loss still gained them the series win over the Braves, and they are 4-2 overall so far on this nine-game roadtrip. But yesterday's game still smarts because it felt like a game Boston should have won. They hit the ball hard but always to a Brave. Penny had great control (no walks) but served up a pair of meatballs for Atlanta's runs. Everything was just out-of-sync enough to throw Boston's game off. Which isn't to say that Atlanta didn't deserve to win; they did. But Boston is the better team and by not being at their best, it allowed Atlanta to steal the last game.
If you're looking for a bright spot, Saito and Bard looked good in relief. No runs or hits over the last two innings and a strikeout for each pitcher. And if you wanted to know how tough Penny is...the guy dislocated his thumb in the first inning throwing a pitch. He simply popped it back in, warmed up and went back to work. I fully expect to read a story someday about Penny reattaching his own arm and throwing a no-hitter.
The bad news (other than the loss) is that Mike Lowell had to return to Boston for a shot in his hip. I think even Lowell has used the term "arthritis" in describing what is happening with that hip. This could have major ramifications for the Sox this year. If Lowell cannot play, that means either the Sox trade for a third baseman (bring back Freddy Sanchez, anyone?) or they go with Youk at third and Kotsay at first. I guess they could promote Lars Anderson and see what happens. Or they could try Aaron Bates or Chris Carter. But if that's your choice then I'd just go with Kotsay. Obviously, Papi at first is not an option. Love ya big guy, but your glove work is...questionable these days.
Tonight the Sox go to Baltimore to begin the final leg of their nine-game roadtrip. Lester goes against Jason Berken. This is another of those "paper mismatches", where Lester just looks far superior to his competition. That may be reality as well; Berken has pitched seven innings or more just one time in six starts. He has surrendered at least one run in every start and gives up more flyballs than groundballs. All that combined makes for high-scoring potential when Berken is on the mound. Hopefully the Sox can take advantage of that.
Even with the loss yesterday, this road trip has been very successful for Boston. As a rule of thumb, if a team can win 2/3 of their home games and then go slightly better than .500 on the road, they'll make the playoffs. That's pretty much where the Sox are right now. So if they can take two of three from the Orioles, so much the better.